Calendar Item 478

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Revise current resolution #89 as follows:
89. Called to Be Neighbors and Witnesses-- Guidelines for Interreligious Relationships
  
    Nations of the world ...
The emergence of religiously diverse societies and the new dynamics in old religious communities have prompted many faith communities to reconsider how they relate to one another and to prevailing secular ideologies. This represents a great opportunity for learning and an enhanced understanding of our common concerns. Yet, there is also danger that religious tensions will lead to oppression of religious minorities and curtailment of religious freedom with real potential for armed conflict. At a time when worldwide problems of human suffering due to poverty, wars, and political oppression are so vast and pervasive that no one faith group can solve them, tensions between religious groups often prevent the level of cooperation needed to respond more adequately. As ancient religions demonstrate new life and power to speak to the deepest human concerns, Christians are pressed toward a deeper understanding of other faith traditions and a reexamination of their and our own claims to a global mission to all people.
What are the implications ...
The United Methodist Church provides this statement as guidance to its members and congregations in facing these questions in their and our relations with persons who hold other faith perspectives.
  
Called to Be Neighbors
    For some Christians, it may seem strange ...
Scripture gives us many images of neighborliness which extends across conventional boundaries. In the Old Testament (Genesis 12), we find God challenging Abram and Sarai Abraham and Sarah to go live among strangers. In the New Testament, Jesus breaks convention by speaking with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:6-30) and shows how she can be reached through dialogue. Speaking with...
What does it mean ...
  
Called to Be Witnesses
Within this religiously diverse community...
    
Dialogue-A Way to Be Neighbors
    
"Dialogue" is the word ...
Dialogue-A Way to Witness
    The only precondition for dialogue-sometimes a challenging one-is a true willingness to enter a relationship of mutual acceptance, openness, and respect. Effective dialogue requires that both partners have deep convictions about life, faith, and salvation. True dialogue requires that Christians not suspend their fundamental convictions concerning the truth of the gospel, but enter into dialogue with personal commitment to Jesus Christ and with the desire to witness to that faith. Effective dialogue also requires that Christians be truly open to persons of other faith communities, to their convictions about life, truth, and salvation and to their witness, as others also feel  are called to witness to their faith and teachings about the meaning of life. Engagement in dialogue is a form of Christian ministry.
Is not this urge to witness ...
Many persons of other faiths are suspicious that dialogue is a new and more subtle tool for conversion. In some ways this is inevitable since Christians do want others to learn of and receive the truth and grace we know in Jesus Christ. The difference between dialogue and other forms of witness is that it is a context for learning from the other the truth and wisdom of the other faith as well as sharing with the other the truth and wisdom of our own. We leave to the Holy Spirit the outcome of our mutual openness.  
Because of our theological understanding of John Wesley’s insistence on prevenient grace, we know that our task of witness is not set in the context of a world lost and deprived of God.   Our task is, instead, set in the context of a world in which God is very much active and where people have already experienced the love of God in good measure through the activity of the Holy Spirit.  Because we understand prevenient grace that “goes before,” we know that the activity of the Holy Spirit is not limited to the confines of the church.  The Spirit of God is at work in the world, too, even at work in persons  at work in the church and in the world, in the lives of all persons, including those of other religious traditions.  A large part of our task, and foundational to inter-religious dialogue and cooperation, is to learn to discern the Spirit’s work.
Our concern is to be obedient to our own call ...
  
Neighbors and Witnesses-Into the New Millennium
    The command to love one's neighbors ...
Guidelines for Interreligious Relationships
    The following guidelines will assist United Methodists to be faithful to their call to witness and the call to be neighbors with persons of other faith communities.
1. Identify the various faith communities...
2. Initiate dialogues with other faith communities, remaining sensitive to areas of historic tension yet open to the possibilities for deepened understanding and new insight. Each partner must forthrightly face the issues that cause separation as well as those that create unity  foster relationship.  
3. Work in practical ways...
Intent
    The intent in developing interreligious relationships is not to amalgamate all faiths into one religion. We Christians have no interest in such syncretism. To engage in interreligious dialogue is neither to endorse nor to deny the faith of other people. In dialogue we mutually seek insight into the wisdom of other traditions and we hope to overcome our fears and misapprehensions about them . Far from requiring a lessening of commitment to Christ, effective dialogue is only possible when one's own faith is strong, and may ultimately serve to deepen or extend it.
We Christians are seeking to be neighbors with persons whose religious commitments are different from our own and to engage each other about the deepest convictions of our lives. In our assurance of and trust in God's grace in Jesus Christ, we open ourselves to dialogue and engagement with persons of other faith communities and to other Christians whose understandings, cultures, and practices may be different from our own.
This interreligious engagement ...
The petition is amended as follows: